Spring 2023 Detailed Description/Special Topic: WAC/WID and WPA
In this seminar, we ask: What does writing and writing expectations look like in the disciplines and majors across the university? How do students transfer their knowledge of writing from one class to the next? How do Writing-Across-the-curriculum (WAC) programs help faculty and students in higher education and secondary settings? What is the role of a Writing Program (or ESL Program) Administrators (WPA) as they negotiate the needs of students, instructors, and university stakeholders in delivering writing (first-year writing, writing centers, ESL, writing-intensive, junior year writing, etc.) programs to the university community? What understandings are necessary to lead when placed (or offered a job) in these roles?
In this course, we take up the specialized areas of Writing-Across-the-Curriculum (WAC), Writing-in-the-Disciplines (WID), and writing program administration (WPA). Writing across the curriculum is an approach to learning which argues for the value of writing in all subject and disciplinary areas. It considers what kinds of appropriate infrastructure and support are needed for all stakeholders (faculty, students, university, etc.). It imagines what the roles of rhetoric and composition specialist (and I would add, ESL specialists) beyond service or a single course. WAC/WID specialists also develop programs and provide infrastructure to help all other departments in the teaching of writing. In recent years, WAC/WID scholarship has considered program sustainability and also students’ writing transfer, and the researchers in the field have used empirical methods to study transfer as it pertains to writing skills and knowledge. Considerations about transfer and WAC/WID begin with a focus on first-year writing, but the interests of WAC/WID specialists reaches into professional writing, writing in the community, and other areas. By its very nature, WAC demands a knowledge of writing outside of English studies, or at least not customary for it. With this in mind, our conversations will be designed to discuss WAC/WID theories and programs, but also consider transfer with an eye toward such programs, our work with students, and program administration.
For the most part, all WAC and WID work involves some layer of writing program administration, particularly in terms of working with stakeholders, faculty, program building, etc. However, we will take the latter part of the semester to delve into program administration a bit more deeply. Our WPA discussions will begin with the recognition that not all universities are research institutions with large numbers of graduate students; therefore we’ll think of administration broadly, considering not only the traditional WPA, but a variety of types of WAC/WID and WPA work, including research, program building, developing intra-institutional relationships, and more.
Throughout the semester, we will consider a broad range of questions, focusing on several which I believe are enduring, but working together to find other questions to consider:
- What are some of the origins and traditions that guide the WAC and WID scholarship in composition?
- What are some of the theories that guide the work of compositionists that study WAC and WID?
- What are some models for WAC program development and working with faculty across the curriculum? How can these program be sustainable?
- What roles should assessment, research, and data-driven decision-making play in contemporary WAC/WID and WPA work?
- What can the study of WPA history offer those asked to perform WPA work?
- What responsibilities do WAC and WID programs have for ensuring second language and multilingual students are treated fairly and respectfully, and supported successfully?
- How should and how can writing programs, writing centers, English departments, and other institutional units be interconnected and/or organized?